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Jesus the Superhero

Jesus the Superhero

jesus the superhero cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

I am a firm believer that what is real remains. And what is false falls away.

There is no reason to fear the increasing studies suggesting the possibility that the miracles in the Jesus story were popular themes that circulated during that era.

Prophecies of a savior to come. Virgin births. A special name. Heavenly portents. Precociousness. Multiplying food. Turning water to wine. Healing. Walking on water. Angels. Demons. The ghosts of ancient heroes appearing. Going to heaven and back. Being crucified. A strange death. Resurrection.

None of these are peculiar to Jesus.

In fact… hahaha… I’ve talked and even worked with very popular Christian leaders who claim some of these same things for their own lives. Yes, I’m serious! Things like: their birth was prophesied and what their mission would be; a miraculous or unusual birth; assigned a special name; angels and demons; going to Heaven and back; talking to the ghosts of biblical characters; transporting; doing miracles; etcetera.

Why do they do that? To impute eternal and universal significance to their lives and mission.

I appreciate the efforts of people like Reza Aslan who reinvestigate the life of Jesus in search of the historical Jesus… an admirable and worthwhile endeavor honored among many Christian theologians, including the great Albert Schweitzer. The criticism Aslan is receiving, re his credentials, expertise, research, is in my opinion a spurious and embarrassing attempt to undermine his potential impact on Jesus studies and popular Christianity. Some more conservative believers might like to know that at least he believes there was a historical Jesus. Many involved in the demythologization of the Jesus story don’t even allow for that anymore.

So… the superpowers of Jesus. They were appropriate for his day.

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  • Fun essay — and very cute drawing.

    I agree with several of your points and certainly with the direction of your flight.

    One point I’d make (for folks like me):

    I am a firm believer in “nothing remains” and in nurturing a soul that can embrace and enjoy such a deep, unnatural insight.

  • klhayes

    Good cartoon, Dave. So many of the same ideas can be found about Messiahs and gods in other cultures. I had come to the conclusion a long time ago that the miracle stories were about spiritual healing and that the Resurrection story is a way to deal with the scary fact of death.

  • Hey, its Harry Potter!

  • Steven McDade

    I still find it interesting that most people who claim to follow Jesus ignore the Gospel According to Mark. There is not a lot of the miracles , death and resurrection stuff. More about HOW to be living in the world. I

  • Livin

    Lord Jesus is about reconciling humanity to God. If you take the supernatural aspects out of the equation you are left with a ethicist no different than any other man. At that point you might as well stop being Christian because there is no point. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin sums up that line of thought nicely “He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend must have a long head or a very short creed.” Now miracles are not the point to Christ’s teachings but are a mean to show authority. In the Gospel of Mark Jesus’s authority is mentioned aorund 10 times. His authority is just as important as the moral teachings with the miracles there just to make points not as a end in themselves. St.Paul makes a good point when he tlakes about miracles “If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.”

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Permit the longish C.S.Lewis quote. I am just through “Surprised by Joy”. Lewis’ atheism is crumbling bit by bit over much time. –” I was now teaching philosophy (I suspect very badly) as well as English. And my watered Hegelianism wouldn’t serve for tutorial purposes. A tutor must make things clear. Now the Absolute cannot be made clear. Do you mean Nobody-knows-what, or do you mean a superhuman mind and therefore (we may as well admit) a Person? After all, did Hegel and Bradley and all the rest of them ever do more than add mystifications to the simple, workable, theistic idealism of Berkeley? I thought not.
    Then I read Chesterton’s Everlasting Man and for the first time saw the whole christian outline of history set out in a form that seemed to me to make sense. Somehow I contrived not to be too badly shaken. You will remember that I already thougth chesterton the most sensible man live “apart from his Christianity.” Now, I veritably believe, I thought–I didn’t of couxrse say; words would have revealed the nonsense–that Christianity itself was very sensible “apart from its Christianity.” But I hardly remember, for I had not long finished The Everlasting Man when something far more alarming happened to me. Early in 1926 the hardest boiled of all the atheists I ever knew sat in my room on the other side of the fire and remarked that the evidence for the historicity of the gospels was really surprisingly good. “Rum thing,” he went on. “All that stuff of Frazer’s about the Dying God. Rum thing. It almost looks as if it had really happened once.” To understand the shattering impact of it, you would need to know the man (who has certainly never since shown any interest in Christianity). If he, the cynic of cynics, the toughest of the toughs, were not–as I would still have put it–“safe”, where could I turn? Was there then no escape?”

  • Brigitte Mueller

    The critiques of Jesus “superhumanity” have been around for a long time now but mostly they rest on an a priory assumption that miracles, resurrections, etc. could simply not be true.

  • Ian

    The critics of any supernatural claims have been around for a long time now. We do not assume there are no miracles, resurrections, etc., we just ask anyone who claims there is to kindly demonstrate they aren’t just making it up. Jesus doesn’t get a free pass where believers in fairies or ghosts, psychics, shaman, scientologists or pagans are asked the same thing.

    A supernatural Jesus is an impossibility if there is no supernatural. So, if you want a supernatural Jesus, it is common sense to establish the existence of a supernatural first. People are excellent at wishful thinking and post-hoc rationalisation. So while many have claimed that their particular religion actually does have supernatural bits, the rest of the world (other religions included) are patiently waiting for it, any of it, to be demonstrated.

  • Well I think it is good to have minimal beliefs and short creeds. That way there is less to want to kill or persecute each other over.

  • Sounds like Lewis is just going from following one authority to another. Arguments from authority never work for me. Sorry.

  • Jesus healed the sick. Gave sight to the blind. Forgave sins. And raised the dead to new life.

    What did Reza’a Mohammed do?

  • Geez Steve, just when I think you can’t get any lower, you find yet another level.

  • Whaddyamean?

    I asked a question. We know what Jesus did. What did the guy who Reza says is God’s prophet do?

    I happen to know what he did. It isn’t pretty. Not at all.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Dissertation by someone I know on the debate. I have read it half through, finishing the rest.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    I think even Aslan accepts the historicity of Christ, and as some sort of Muslim, who generally don’t accept that Jesus died on the cross, he surprisingly argues that Jesus did die on a Roman cross.

  • klhayes

    Mohammed was Allah’s prophet.

  • The question was, what did he do? Besides marrying a 6 year old and taking over countries and forcing conversions at the point of a sword.

  • Steve: please be quiet. You’re an Islamaphobe. I’ve always suspected so. But now you are being blatant. Shut up please. There are Muslims who read this blog.

  • klhayes

    Yeah I am sure Christians NEVER engaged in childhood marriages or forced anyone to convert to Christianity by the sword.

    And Reza converted from Christianity, so Mohammed must do more for him than Jesus.

  • You put up a post on a Muslim who remakes Jesus, and then you don’t want us to comment. And nothing I said is untrue.

    You are being ridiculous.

    I’m done.

    Goodbye, chicken little.

  • Jesus Christ would never do anything of the sort. We are comparing Jesus to Mohammed. Not Muslims to Christians.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    And Ali was his successor,– or not. That’s what Muslims can’t agree upon and is the origin or substance of the ill-will between Shia and Sunni, the reason to curse each other in the mosques. And now to throw bombs. In Baghdad 1000 people have died in Shia, Sunni strife in the last month alone, 120 on the weekend. (I read this in the German news. North American news can be so short on substance plus it’s a major embarrassment to the Americans to have left behind such a mess and mayhem that nobody knows what to do about. — One thousand in one month. –The Christian population has fled under horrific harassment. And there were very many of them in historic communities.)

    Mohammed and Ali also are historic figures. What they have said and done is known and researchable, except there are things one is not allowed to say or draw. And Jesus is also researchable and we have what are claiming to be eye-witness accounts. And Reza Aslan, his scholarship level is not known to me, may have some interesting things to say. For one thing I have heard him say that a historic Jesus did die on the cross (contra Islamic teaching). (Was this and Islamophobic post?)

  • One more immature demonstration of racism from you Steve and I WILL block you. You are self-satisfyingly ignorant of history replete with stories of Christians forcing conversions of other people and even nations, beginning with Constantine and the Roman Empire. And you refuse to consider the huge debate going on in Aisha studies (Mohammed’s young wife).

    You have one of the smallest minds I have ever seen, and I wish you would just cut free of all that religious bullshit that has turned you into some kind of Christian zombie.

  • I just don’t see the connection between Jesus existing and dying on the cross and somehow concluding that all the other stuff like original sin, damnation, and needing to be saved to satisfy God so he won’t send you to hell is true. The story makes for good human drama but you can go to the opera to see and hear good human drama as well.

  • Sven2547

    You’re comparing one religion’s messiah to another religion’s prophet, in doing so proudly demonstrating how little you understand comparative theology.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Christians are not supposed to force conversions. The mandate is to teach and baptize. That is the difference with Jesus. And the apostles were martyred (killed by others, not killing others). And the first few sets of Christians ended up in the arena… And very many current ones are displaced and imprisoned and denied freedom to assemble, etc. .

    “Aisha studies” have never come up here, anytime I’ve seen, and can’t even see that it would be permissible to open that topic up. Maybe some Muslims who read this blog, could unfurl “Aisha-studies” for us. There are Christians and Muslims of all colors and races. It is not even a matter of “race.” And you are the “graffiti artist” on the walls of religion, for crying out loud. How is this discussion supposed to go, if it is not simply suppressed entirely? — We have seen how these discussion go. It is current history and we all have the internet now. — Christ can be mocked to heart’s content, (including in this cartoon), but don’t touch any others. (It would be racist.)

    Obviously, Muslims would read this blog. You have published it on the internet. It is for all the world to read. And some Muslims would probably say to you, as they do on the Youtube videos demonstrating how to proselytize, that as you have a diminished view of Jesus (i.e. not “God”, ect.), that you are already a Muslim and you didn’t even know it!

    — It all comes down to who Christ is and what he was really like, and whether he really rose, whether he is Lord, liar, lunatic. And if Lord, yes, I will be his “Zombie”, too. Thankfully, these zombies fight with words, yes with Bible infected minds. Aslan, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali all fight with words, too. Even, NP. That’s ok. It may not be pleasant for all, but that is freedom of speech and it is a good thing. And that is what we indulge in here, be some of it wholesome and some of it not.

    Freedom of speech and thought should allow people to draw comparisons and differences between Jesus and Mohammed and what they did, instructed and commanded. It is a timely discussion and we should be able to have it, somewhere. And then let our allegiances be with the right man, or none, not considering endless human histories viewed from how many angles, pulling out all the worst of what some people did what where and why, which are all outdated and just aggrieving. However, a founder and teacher like Jesus or Mohammed, should be scrutinized most carefully because they are to be at least emulated, if not worshiped.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    It’s just a piece of the puzzle.

  • Livin

    Wherever you have people you have discord, fights, and persecution. To think this is because of religion is a wrong view of human nature. Human nature/the animal nature is to fight,kill,and rape. This happens in all societies no matter the religious affiliation or lack thereof . It is ancient and tribal part of human nature played out in every aspect of society.
    The Kingdom of God however is a view of life devoid of the things that control the animal nature. Love and patience,sacrifice and asexuality,peace instead of war. It is the opposite of what the mainstream ancient and the modern world teaches us.

    I understand your anger but it is misplaced.

  • Ian

    That’s not really on the debate though. I suspect you might have missed my point.

    The dissertation plays the ‘worldview’ card heavily (chapter 6 in particular). Which is what you were trying in your first comment. It suggests that, if one is presupposing no supernatural, then the ‘pool of live options’ (pp. 249ff) is unnecessarily diminished. It is these presuppositions, the author says, that renders the literal resurrection impossible.

    What I’m saying is, that is poppycock.

    A ‘worldview’ is only reasonable if it can be shown to bear some connection with reality. Otherwise we can claim any nonsense as our ‘worldview’ and scream that those who disregard it are diminishing the ‘pool of live options’.

    Denying that Jesus was kidnapped by aliens is diminishing the ‘pool of live options’, so perhaps we should see serious scholars of Jesus give serious consideration to the alien abduction theory of the resurrection. Since alien abductions are a ‘worldview’.

    But, before historians take seriously the idea that things were caused by alien intervention, they rightfully expect someone, anyone, to demonstrate that aliens actually exist. Until then, the ‘worldview’ is nothing more than a made-up fiction. Calling it a ‘worldview’ doesn’t help. It might make it sound all fancy and reasonable, but it is still just made up nonsense. Saying “scholars just have this unfair presupposition that there are no aliens, so they can’t come to the right conclusions” is obviously bunk.

    So back to our issue: sure the supernatural is a worldview, but in order to use it to interpret stuff, it is a reasonable request to ask you to show it isn’t just completely made up fiction. Without that Crossan, or anyone else, is justified in ignoring the possibility of a literal resurrection, as they are in ignoring the possibility of alien abduction. This is not a presupposition, it is a deliberate decision not to include made-up nonsense in historical consideration.

  • Guest

    The hardboiled atheist was wrong. The historicity of the gospels are not good at all. They contradict each other, they get details of the period wrong (the census that had to be taken ‘in the town of your father’, the freeing of Barrabas) and they are written by people who never met Jesus, so the information is at least secondhand.

  • Guest

    Have you actually read the gospel of Mark?

  • Guest

    Muhammed had the Qu’ran told to him by an angel, split the moon and ascended to Heaven on a winged steed at the end of his life… according to his followers, which is the exact same kind of evidence as the miracles of Jesus.

  • klhayes

    Whether or not Christians should not force conversion does not take away the fact that once Christianity became powerful and intermingled with politics that they did.

    Christianity has used violence to promote its message (from the Crusades to the Inquisition) and I have heard missionaries talk about how easy it is to convert Africans in war-torn countries compared to those that are comfortable. If the violence spreads the Gospel, they believe it is necessary. Look at the violence in Ireland between Protestants and Catholics.

    And the persecution against Christians happening around the world is real persecution. Fundamentalist Christians in America cry persecution when others they don’t like gain rights (which do not affect them) or when others disagree with them,

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Crusades and Inquisition were problems that sparked a reformation. The treat of the Turk at the gates of Vienna was real, but the job to defend Christendom militarily should fall to the emperor, not the church, and that point was made. We know that Islam preaches expansion by conquest; it is inherent in the teaching. Politics undoubtedly gets mixed into many matters and the problems in Ireland were sparked by activists from the mainland. I looked it up. There were about 4000 people killed in the violence in Ireland in all the years of the conflict, sad as it is. As I said, in Baghdad alone, we had 1000 dead in sectarian strife in just last month. And of course, as per usual, politics from outside agents is huge. But the Sunni/ Shia split is also inherent in basic profession of faith and again the permission to pursue others, infidels, militarily is there if not urged for paradise.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Sorry, I haven’t finished the reading and I am not sure how alien abductions come into it right at the moment. From this point of not being sure, I will just venture this: do we have eye-witness accounts of alien abduction of Jesus, or people converting the entire Roman world and dying for this story with alien abductions? I am sure you will let me know if this is off the mark.

  • Ian

    Once again I suspect you’re not actually listening to what I’m saying because you’ve missed the point, again. You’re trying to bring the question back to the merits of the resurrection case for Jesus, but I’m making a different point: that a supernatural explanation is only warranted if the supernatural exists. Something you or anyone else is yet to demonstrate.

    I’m sorry the point seems to elude you. I can’t think how to express it more clearly.

    As to your specific questions (which are irrelevant to the point, but are still worth addressing)

    We don’t have eyewitness accounts of alien abduction of Jesus, but we have lots of eyewitness accounts of alien abductions generally, yes. We don’t have eyewitness accounts of a physical resurrection of Jesus, we have one eyewitness account to visions of a resurrected Jesus, in Paul. But he is clear that the resurrected body is not a physical body but a ‘spiritual’ one. We perhaps have second hand reports of eyewitness testimony of the resurrection, perhaps. But if so, we don’t know who’s testimony we have second hand, nor any information about the people who are relaying it. We have a lot of later mythology about those people, but no good evidence that any of it is true. In terms of direct eyewitness testimony, alien abduction is much more widely reported than supernatural resurrection.

    As for the conversion of the ‘entire’ Roman world and the willingness to martyr oneself, its a common canard. But history is replete with whole nations being ‘converted’ to all sorts of rubbish, and being more than willing to die for it. The idea that the strength of somebody’s zeal is an indicator of the correctness of their belief is nonsense.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Yes, so lets not look at the merits of any case, there are lots of precedents for lots of foolishness. Seems like a senseless discussion.

    A ‘worldview’ is only reasonable if it can be shown to bear some connection with reality. Otherwise we can claim any nonsense as our ‘worldview’ and scream that those who disregard it are diminishing the ‘pool of live options’.

    You probably have some familiarity with Kant and you will know that he showed philosophically that we cannot rule out that much more exists than we can measure. If you are a straight reductionist, you also have Thomas Nagel and “Mind and Cosmos” against you. There is plenty of company among philosophers about things beyond straight naturalism. Of course, they seem to me more of a Gnostic interpretation. Christianity tries to hold the physical and the spiritual together.

  • Ian

    Who said anything about measuring, or ‘straight naturalism’, reductionism, or ruling out anything? It is a common trick to try and shift the burden of proof, but its ultimately much simpler than that.

    You don’t need to appeal to epistemology or metaphysics. *Of course* there’s no way to prove that the supernatural does not exist, any more than we can prove that aliens are not living among us, that we’re not all living inside a virtual reality matrix, that I don’t have fairies at the bottom of my garden, or that Russell’s teapot isn’t out there orbiting the sun.

    But neither I, nor Crossan, nor anyone else is asking you to do that.

    You want to use a phenomena as an explanation for something. Please show the phenomenon exists. That’s all.

    Until you can show something exists, historians are justified in not using it as an explanation.

    That’s not a ‘presupposition’, it is just how reasonable people work.

    I understand why you’d want to try to avoid that basic demonstration with all kinds of handwaving, burden shifting, and philosophical gyrations. But anyone with their own brand of made-up nonsense could do the same. The only rational response (a response I hope you’d have to any other such nonsense) is to say “all very nice, but I’d still like to actually see that it exists”

  • Brigitte Mueller

    The work of historians is not so plain as you would like to make it. I’m making dinner.

  • Ian

    I didn’t say the work of historians is plain. I merely said that, to use something as an explanation, it should exist.

    If the supernatural doesn’t exist, then we know, a priori, that this event was not supernatural. Thus the existence of the supernatural is reasonably an undemonstrated prerequisite, and ignoring it is not a presupposition, contra your initial comment.

    Bon apetit!

  • klhayes

    And God told the Israelites to capture lands, kill the men, take the women so he could make them a great nation in the Old Testament. Force was necessary to take back Israel and many Christians today continue to support that ideal.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    I must indeed be dense. Do you want to explain that again.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Israel was supposed to be a country with some moral standards and a light to the nations. You’ll say “that really fits with the conquering…” I am afraid that it seems that human activity seems to be nothing but search for power, land, etc. And it is Jesus who said to love your enemies. This is really a great shock to how things are usually done. So whether or not the war was just and what was all wrong with the Canaanites, I don’t want to venture… There have been some horrid cultures around with revenge killing, etc. rampant. Now we have Israel surrounded by a sea of enemies who are bent on its destruction, and we have to say that it is an island of peace, reason, industry and justice compared to what goes on around it, though it’s not perfect. All sorts of people who have been fleeing violence in the region have found refuge in Israel, which actually has a democracy and relatively decent institutions. Copts fleeing Egypt come out via Israel, etc. Anyways, we can argue about this forever. I think if you wanted to immigrate into any country in the Middle East right now, you would prefer to go to Israel, except for the threat it is always under. I don’t know what “ideal” it is that Christians support which you mention. But I did read that in Islam revenge killing is allowed… Which kind of explains the death spiral we see now in several countries with everyone in arms against everyone else. And people’s lives have different worth in Islam.– No doubt this will not be a popular response and it is getting late… So over and out.

  • Ian

    I’m not sure I can. I’ve said the same thing simply, and with philosophical jargon.

    The idea is hardly controversial: I’m quite sure you apply the same rule to other fanciful claims. Everyone does. It is just that the special pleading and the accusations of bias begin when others apply it to yours. The same special pleading can be found on any forum for alien abductees, or NWO conspiracy theorists.

    And, outside a small band of scholars who happen to also believe in each of those things, the rest of scholarship rightly ignores it. As it ignores the supernatural. Pending a demonstration that it isn’t just made up nonsense.

  • klhayes

    Your refusal to venture into the morality of a Judeo-Christian God who tells people to go to war and commit atrocities yet again proves my point that Christians don’t want to criticize their own history/faith but will readily accuse another faith of violence.

    I know what Jesus said but that often does mean people follow it. From the Crusades, to the Inquisition to Manifest Destiny to the destruction of native American to the Iaq war, a Juedeo-Christian God has been used to justify brutal acts. But Christians choose to ignore it. And that is a big reason I am agnostic.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    That’s just a bunch of generalities. I find Jesus resurrection pretty convincingly attested to, and scholarship like Crossans, as shown in the paper (did you read the whole thing? I skim read it all now) — biased and poorly based as Anderson tries to show. Crossan’s kind of scholarship is highly publicized and just that does hot make it right and good.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    First of all, generally people find some noble reason to engage in war, and often the cite God for their support, on both and every side. We likely don’t have to argue about that. In fact, it seems, We are all pretty good at finding noble causes for our actions. This has got to be the self-supporting bias, or whichever (I don’t have the bias classification down.)

    But with the conquering of Canaan, we see how big and long the story is for the Israelites to finally go there and go get it. From Abraham, to Egypt, to Moses and the Pharao and the 40 years in the dester… It does not seem like a hap-hazard “let’s go get them” kind of campaign. In fact, they whined and wanted to go back to Egypt, and then they were afraid and did not want to cross the border. They were not warriors. They were a little, disenfranchised bunch. And here, they are supposed to take the land. Many of them would have rather died. But a great leader was supplied to them and in some places they did not have to fight. Jericho fell just like that and they even had inside help; you wonder why…

    Anyhow, we have in the Bible, a picture of God who uses people to punish other people. And often this works the other way. Often, Israel itself was punished, with sieges, losses, and exile. And when it was called to rebuff enemies like the Philistines, who were always harassing them and other campaigns, there were sometimes instructions about how this was to be conducted. And sometimes the instructions were to kill everything down to the last thing, so that nothing remains, not to even plunder. This also, did not seem natural to the Israelite and certainly they did not always feel like being that thorough and taking no plunder, etc. This is how the stories are told and I can’t change it.

    I do put the best construction on them and assume that there was a reason. That in the international warfare and power-mongering that always exists, that God wanted this little, sorry, ragged, tested in the wilderness bunch who worshiped the one true God, not trees, sun and moon, Baal, Moloch, etc. with all sorts of practices detestable, to have a land and country and that from this many blessings would flow. We have the promise to Abraham. Your children will be like the stars in the sky and they will be a blessing to the entire world.

    1Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

    2And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

    3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

    7And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

    So, this is what is supposed to be happening. And today, also I am a daughter of Abraham and have received this blessing. It has come down all the way to me. (And you, too, if you will have it. And we also believe in a place and a life and blessing to come, yet. And also that via death.)

    So this was God’s promise and plan. And the execution of it, seems to have also been to punish peoples who hated and resisted Israel or had immoral and unfaithful practices. As Mr. Beaver says about Aslan: “He is not safe.” He loves and invites but he also punishes. The question is whether we are on the side of the spiritual Israel or the spiritual Canaanites, so to speak.

  • Ian

    Of course you do!! You are a believer in the supernatural.

    A believer in alien abduction will find stories of alien abduction convincingly attested to, and skeptical scholarship biased and poorly based. A simple google search will show you very long and detailed criticisms of all kinds of anti-alien scholarship, accusing it of the most blatant biases and foregone conclusions.

    A true believer in the 9/11 conspiracy and the take over of the new world order will find stories of government conspiracy convincing, and the reports of investigative committees of experts biased, poorly based and lacking. Again a google search with lead you to an incredible amount of detailed criticism of 9/11 reports and scholarship.

    The question is not whether true believers believe what they believe.

    The issue is, is someone wishing to approach a topic as objectively as possible, justified in excluding explanations involving phenomena that have not been shown to exist?

    And the answer is yes, and more. It is not only justified, it is an obligation of rational scholarship to do so.

    If you have a problem with that, the correct response is not more special pleading or more criticism of ‘presuppositions’. Every believer of nonsense plays that game.

    The reasonable response is simply to show that the supernatural isn’t made up nonsense, but is a real phenomenon.

    But no believer has done that basic groundwork. So the academic community (and anyone with common sense) is justified in ignoring your particular fantasy, as they do any other fantasy.

    Yes, I did read the thesis right through. My response is as it has been throughout: that’s very nice, and would be interesting if there is such a thing as the supernatural, but if there is not, then its all post-hoc rationalisation. So, again, show us there is such a thing as the supernatural, then we can get on with the hard historic work of figuring out whether this particular incident was an example of the supernatural or not.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    I am going to be out. You may like to view this. It is somewhat plain and simple for laypeople, but it is still right on. The opening line is “What is a credible religious faith?” Paul Maier is a Lutheran historian, I believe. Maybe we can get specific about some of the things he raises.

  • Ian

    I’ve seen many such presentations. I’ve seen an Islamic one almost the same which shows how all other religions, including Christianity, are demonstrably inferior to Islam. Such nonsense is very easy to come up with. If you’re reasonably intelligent you can do it yourself for any topic you care to name. A good debater can argue convincingly on any topic: even ones they disagree with.

    Which is why the central challenge always comes down to this: can you show that any of it is not just made up? Not more talk, let’s actually see that it exists.

    If not, then none of it is reasonable. Saying “this is a credible faith” doesn’t make it so, if you can’t actually demonstrate that it isn’t invented fantasy. All the words in the world are just words, perhaps beautiful or very clever words, but just words if you can’t demonstrate that any of them are true.

    We can argue about which is the best God, which is the correct way to heaven, which is the right spirit to channel, which is the correct spell tradition to follow, whether to associate with the seelie or unseelie court, and so on. Believers of all stripes love these conversations, and engage in them endlessly.

    But sooner or later, all the talk about how wonderful the emperor’s garments are, how vastly superior to any outfit created by another, how unique among all rulers he is, are transparent, if the clothes simply can’t be shown to exist.